tv NBC Bay Area News We Investigate NBC November 19, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm PST
>> first of all, this wasn't right. >> she tried to blow the whistle on the wells fargo bank. >> cop on campus. we examine why certain schools are using campus police officers for reasons that are angering parents and even officers themselves. but first -- >> it really is -- >> we investigate bogus airplane parts. they're used all over the united states and the consequences could be fatal. here's senior investigative reporter steven stock. >> good evening. thanks for joining us. for the next 30 minutes, we investigate. we begin tonight with an issue that has caused airplanes to crash and people to die. questionable airplane parts for sale everywhere. this is what they look like. they are supposed to have faa documentation along with them when they're sold. but we discovered that many of
them don't. experts tell us that these parts can pose a safety risk to anyone who flies. >> i miss him terribly. >> gail's husband ken died in august 2009 when the cessna 182 he was piloting crashed into a vineyard shortly after takeoff from napa county airport. >> i truly think about him every second of every day. >> an experienced cross-country pilot, the 67-year-old gottlieb was a beloved father and grandfather. >> he loved to fly. the feeling of being up there. but also up there the tremendous knowledge about the technology of the plane and the backup system that things would work. >> nine months after the crash ntsb investigators officially ruled that pilot disorientation, what they called "loss of situational awareness caused the accident. it also showed no evidence of a
mishap mechanical failure. >> it didn't have to happen. >> but gail gottlieb and her family were not satisfied with the ntsb's ruling. so they hired the foremost safety -- of redwood shore to dig further. >> unfortunately, there's no noncritical part on an airplane. >> the meticulous research said it was not pilot error that caused the crash but unapproved airplane part. >> it turns out, the track release had been installed in the plane by a local mechanic. it had no documentation or certification. it caused it to move out of control. >> the nose points up. >> if that slips back, you have a big problem because you can't reach the controls or the yoke with your hands. you can't reach the rudder pedals with your feet. >> san mateo civil jury agreed,
ruling that the mechanic who installed the unapproved seat part should pay gottlieb's family more than $13 million. >> in this case, it's easy to put on an unapproved part with no documentation at all because who is checking and the answer is basically no one. >> the faa considers unapproved parts a risk to aviation because the parts may not properly -- they may not withstand the high stress conditions found on airplanes. but an investigation by nbc bay area discovered that unapproved or bogus parts can be found easily throughout the aviation industry. >> it is pervasive in the industry. >> in response to our public records request, it provided 135 different records of unapproved airplane parts involving u.s. aircraft in its national tracking and reporting system. that's just in the last five years alone. included in those reports, unapproved parts found in commercial aircraft. we found 22 different airplane
crashes that killed seven people and injured 18 others where ntsb investigators officially pointed to unapproved parts contributing to the accident. >> suspected our approved parts is very serious. gardner helped run the faa suspected unapproved parts program beginning in the 1990s. >> i just received all the suspected unapproved parts reports coming in. >> though he retired in 2011, gardner continues to serve as a consultant on criminal investigations involving unapproved parts. gardner says approved airplane parts cost more because they must go through rigorous testing and inspection to make sure they don't fail. >> unapproved parts may not go through that. have no idea when they're going to fail. >> if they fail? >> it could be critical. >> catastrophic. >> how do dangerous or unapproved parts find their way on board airplanes? this is one way. we found these airplane parts
for sale over the internet and we bought them. everything from o-rings to an engine piston to an exhaust valve to lighting and lock rings. from a sense sif switch -- previously failed in a commercial dc-10. many claim -- they required no required documentation. >> out in the middle of the atlantic and it goes bad where is it going to go. >> the electronic decoder panel can sell new for more than $1,000. it was bought over the internet for $60. >> it needs to be investigated. >> you would not put that in your aircraft? >> i would not put that out for sale. somebody's life could depend on that. >> the mechanic who worked on ken gottlieb's pilot -- still has his license. he did not return our request for comment. the faa acknowledges this is a problem although a spokesman said in a statement that
unapproved parts make up a small fraction of all aviation products out there. it aggressively pursues cases saying it will issue civil penalties of up to $32,000 for anyone knowingly installing an unapproved part on an airplane. >> coming up next, kept going and going and going. >> everything around it stopped. >> a tragedy on the tracks. >> we investigate the deadly danger for drivers that some say can and should be prevented. am i actually pushing these guys who ran out of gas six miles on a lonely highway? or is this a metaphor for how i'm constantly pushing myself to make a tastier sandwich? like my new pepper jack ranch spicy chicken sandwich with spicy pepper jack cheese, spicy ranch, and spicy all-white-meat chicken.
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millions of drivers cross them every day. we've uncovered a safety issue at bay area railroad crossings. crashes that could have been prevented. they involve maintenance of way vehicles, heavy cars on railroad tracks. we've learned the massive cars don't -- leaving drivers at risk of serious and fatal crashes.
a friday afternoon last january don williams driving home early -- >> came home every day. >> to meet his wife of 24 years, amy. >> one of a kind. >> don had a green light to make a left at madison and monterrey. sara making a right stopped short. >> i saw something moving in the corner of my eye and i loongd. it was a train. so i stopped. i thought those rail guards didn't go down. that's weird. and then the off-duty police officer rushed to help. but don couldn't hold on. >> the whole truck just kept going and going and going. my whole world, everything around it stopped. >> time was -- he just was there for everyone. >> accident reports revealed this maintenance vehicle was
traveling 15 miles an hour when it plowed into the side of don's truck. the crossing gate did not go down. >> it's just a -- over and over. >> the investigative yun it learned in five years, 187 maintenance of way vehicles have collided with cars, injuring 68 people, killing two, including don. >> it's just outrageous. >> bob comer is a railroad safety expert who investigated hundreds of train collisions over the past 27 years. comer says this is a known safety concern recognized by the federal railroad administration. roadway maintenance machines do not always trigger activation of warning device systems. in most cases they're not designed to. the government allows companies to create their own standards for how to safely operate these machines. comer says making matters worse,
safety technology on the railroads is is he verl outdated. >> it gets people killed and injured. this is a perfect example of the railroad industry being allowed to use an 1872 technology. >> but it's the system used by railroad companies nationwide. including union pacific, the company in charge of the vehicle that killed don. after the crash, u.p. told federal investigators the maintenance vehicle was supposed to stay within 50 feet of the other trains in the group to ensure the gates would go down. u.p.'s rule said in the gates and lights didn't activate, the on track equipment must stop and workers flag the crossing. >> what went on was negligence and madness on the part of the people. they knew better and did it anyhow. >> they say the trains crossed at least one other intersection without triggering the gate.
>> another person said her husband yelled at her to stop before the train entered the intersection. that witness said she was worried about other vehicles in the area. >> i believe that u.p. or whoever the regulators are, should really look at this. >> they declined our request for an interview and declined to answer specific questions. in a statement, the company said immediately after the accident u.p. met with federal regulators and reviewed the rules regarding maintenance of way vehicle operations. the company said safety is a top priority. federal investigators found the operator of the vehicle at fault for riding back bards. u.p. disciplined him with no time off and two days of safety rules training. meanwhile, the federal railroad administration didn't issue any penalties against u.p. saying the company didn't violate any federal regulations. the fra declined to be interviewed. >> the federal railroad administration should be saying, there's gross negligence on the part of the railroad.
the operator and the supervisor. >> i think something should have been done so much sooner. this was such a preventable tragedy. >> the widow, amy williams, questions remain. why did this happen and when will it happen again? >> i don't want this to happen to anybody else. i don't. >> amy williams is suing union pacific. she urges drivers to look both ways before crossing any railroad tracks. in the meantime, we are continuing our investigation looking into the safety records at these crossings. coming up next, a former employee says wells fargo fired her when she raised red flags. so she turned to the feds for help. what the government knew years ago about fraudulent accounts and why the warning went nowhere.
the problems inside wells fargo could have been fixed a long time ago. in 2010, he said he reviewed a complaint from a bay area wells fargo employee who raised red flags about fake customer accounts. instead of investigating, he said the case was mishandled. she first noticed back in 2008 that something wasn't right at wells fargo. >> accounts opened in one day, closed two days later. instead of accounts opened the next day. >> she worked here at the st. helena branch as a personal banker. she said customers would come in complaining of fees for accounts they never opened. >> how did that sit with you when you realized this was going on? >> first of all, this is not right. i think this is intentional. she says she alerted her manager and h.r. and called the ethics hotline but the company fired her, she says for raising red flags.
in may 2010, there was a complaint filed with the whistle blower protection program. the first stop for employees facing retaliation. >> did anyone from osha contact you? >> no, never. >> that's because osha didn't investigate her case, at least according to darryl whitman. a former investigator who worked for osha from 2010 to 2015. he might look familiar. whitman first spoke to nbc bay area last year claiming supervisors ordered him to close cases without properly investigating them. >> i was told by my supervisor, oh, just conduct an interview and dismiss it. >> whistle blower protection. >> even getting national attention on the dailey show. >> they were screened. >> from his new office overseas. whitman is speaking out to the investigative unit. he says the wells fargo complaint ended up on his desk. >> i wasn't given an opportunity to do an investigation. >> whitman says no one in osha investigated the case.
he says the agency held the complaint for six months and only assigned it to him to close it. then she filed a federal lawsuit. >> they assigned it to me only for the purpose of dismissing the complaint. >> according to osha policy, the agency isn't required to pursue cases after whistle blowers head to court. osha should have pen -- before she filed her lawsuit. in his report, whitman noted that he declined to provide a defense. that should have been an automatic win for ga troen. and a win he says would have required osha to provide details to banking regulators for them to take action. >> that didn't happen because they didn't conduct an investigation. >> they declined to comment about learning about their sales practices. the consumer financial pro decks bureau was formed in 2010 -- remember, she made the osha complaint in 2010. >> you squeezed your employees
to the breaking point so they would cheat customers. >> now, six years later, wells fargo is firing thousands of employees and facing a $185 million fine. >> something is going wrong at this bank. >> and congress wants to know how employees were able to open 2 million phony accounts. >> do you think the problems inside wells fargo could have been fixed sooner if osha had investigated your clients' complaints? >> absolutely. >> the attorney representing ga troen and two others who filed complaints with osha. one of the cases has been pending for five years. osha contacted him in 2015 to interview that client. >> i gave him a date and a time that they requested. never heard back. >> labor department tells us osha is conducting a top to bottom review of all cases involving wells fargo since 2010, including the extended coordination with federal partners.
ga troen is frustrated she had to learn from nbc bay area what an osha investigator said happened to her complaint. >> what would you tell them? >> i would tell them to do their jobs. it's not fair to just ignore people's cases like my case. >> in the lawsuit -- it was dismissed in 2012. a judge found the termination was justified. it doesn't tolerate retaliation and -- osha velgt tore whitman said -- that case is pending. coming up next -- cop on campus. some bay area schools have no guidelines in place for campus police officers. we investigate how that impacts students and law enforcement.
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million school age children in america. cops on campus. when school districts fail to have policies on when to involve police, children can be left with criminal records for what some describe as childish behavior. a report has shown that. we're uncovering which school districts are leaving those decisions up to chance and which are taking real steps to protect not only your children but also law enforcement. >> at just 13 years old, aaron gonzalez has already done a lot of growing up here in oakland. >> we don't have a perfect life. it happens to us out of nowhere. we try to do good. >> you feel like it's always one step forward, two steps back? >> yeah. >> his mother is a single parent of four but often worries about aaron. at school he got in fights with other students. one day he met ryan welch. a campus police officer for the oakland school district.
he wasn't there to arrest aaron or write him up. instead, he offered a helping hand, literally. >> that's not how you shake a person's hand. he told me you grip with the person. i was like, oh, this is a guy that some people could look up to. >> the officer started visiting aaron at school regularly. >> how are your grades this year? >> he even checks in on aaron at home. when he saw they didn't have a dining room table, he gave them his. >> building trust and partnerships with the community is what it's all about these days. if i can do the little things that go a long ways, then i will. >> the role of campus officers across oakland's 83 schools is meticulously defined in an agreement between the school district and law enforcement. the officers are there to address security issues and serve as mentor, not disciplinarians and arresting students is considered a last resort. his mother credits the policy and officer welch for
transforming her son's life. >> it was like night and day. >> he got through to aaron? >> yes. >> how would you describe what he means to your family? >> because he's not only helped my kids, he has helped me and my family in many, many ways. >> defining the role of law enforcement is considered a best practice by the national association of school resource officers. across the nine counties of the bay area, we discovered many schools get a failing grade. we spent months contacting all 161 school districts in the bay area. and we found police officers patrol half of all high schools. but of those schools, about 41% failed to define the roles and responsibilities of school officers. in total, more than 243,000
students in the bay area attend aid school district that doesn't actually outline what their campus police officers should or should not be doing. >> there will be no consistency across the board. >> the chief of police for the oakland unified school district. >> you have 5 and 6-year-old kids raised by their 12 and 13-year-old skis sister. they come to school angry and emotional issues. they have to handled by school not by the police. >> he serves on the education committee. after learning about our findings, he plans to look into the ideas of drafting new legislation to potentially require schools across california to outline the roles of law enforcement while on campus. >> we're going to -- the trust between police departments in the community and one way to really begin that is to make sure that there is good deployment and good uses of the officers on school campus. >> in oakland, officer welch is
answering that call. >> how would you describe him? >> like an angel because he makes me believe in myself more, think of myself as a good person. >> instead of wings, your angel has a badge. >> i like that. >> to find out which school districts in the bay area spell out when police officers should be called, you can long on to nbcbayarea.com. sf if you have a story for us. call 888-996-tips. or send an e-mail to the unit at nbcbayarea.com. that's it for us tonight. thanks for joining us. you can watch our investigations regularly right here on nbc bay area. have a great night.
between megan and bill o'reilly. >> i found it hard to read the chapter. >> the whole year was so dark. i lost every friend i had for no reason. you know back in the seventh grade they didn't need a reason. they just turned on you. and i didn't look like this then. you know, i was heavy. i had bad skin. i had a gap in between my two front teeth. and, you know i did not have it going on, let's say that. it culminate the after really, a year of bullying and them calling my house one night, the leader of the group called my home. i picked up the phone. she said -- megan it is me. and i was hopeful for a moment that she was going to -- ask me over, or extend an olive branch. instead she asked me if i knew where the people from her partier w. -- party were. i said no. they all yelled, we're here. >> i could cry. >> i can get upset. >> megan did not tell her